Saturday, May 16, 2009

Star Trek Review

Quick Take: J.J. Abrams and company reboot the Star Trek franchise in a unique and interesting way. Not only do they pay homage to the original franchise but create a new franchise in a way that will be very different than that of the original. The acting is amazing. Special effects are on par if not much better than any seen in previous Star Trek shows or films and the plot is enjoyable, fast paced and not confusing or containing any hiccups. An enjoyable film for anybody that is a fan of the previous Star Trek shows or a person that has no clue what Star Trek is about. I highly recommend you to catch this in the theaters while you can.

****Warning Major Spoilers Ahead****

Synopsis: To make things easier for me to write this.....I'm going to give you the link for the IMDB synopsis. It's pretty thorough and lengthy and probably more than I would put in my synopsis version....... you can read it here.

Ok, now to the review Good, Bad and Ugly style:

The Good

- The opening scene where George Kirk sacrifices himself (and the USS Kelvin) in order to save the lives of his crew, his wife and newborn son was amazing. It made the Mrs. cry both times when she watched it and it is a near tear-jerker for myself. This scene emotionally drags you right into the film.

- The Origins of Kirk and Spock. With Kirk's dad dead, Kirk becomes a smart but rebellious young man that is willing to take on any challenge (including fighting four Starfleet cadets at once). Spock has a chip on his shoulder based on the prejudice of being half human and half Vulcan. It was a nice way to explain why they do some of the things they do throughout the film and it also made you care about the characters. Spock in particular as he comes off as a bit of a prick in his early interactions with Kirk.

- Homage to the original franchise. If you're a fan of the original Star Trek series or movies then you'll appreciate the detail that was placed into certain scenes. Kirk winning in a no-win scenario (The Kobayashi Maru- I also liked that we learn that Spock programmed the scenario). Bones with his "I'm a Doctor not a Physicist damn it!" rant. Chekov's trouble with pronouncing the letter v. Yet, they didn't over do it. I remember watching Superman Returns and feeling that some scenes were shot identically to it's preceding Superman films and certain homages were forced in there.....not helping develop the plot or the scene.

- Cast and character development. I thought the casting for the film was great. Star Trek is a hard film because of it's notable characters and the actors that played those characters. How many people can do Kirk but overdo Shatner's style, making it more parody than performance? Chris Pine did Kirk in his own way. Gone were the pauses that Shatner is known for (although the wife did notice that Pine did a lot of grunting in Trek). But it was still Kirk. You can say that about most of the cast. It was slightly different but it was still "the" character that we know and love. The only exception to this was Karl Urban's take on McCoy. Again, if not done correctly this could have come of as parody and not performance. Urban however must have tapped into the late DeForest Kelley because his McCoy was dead-on. Great performance.
I also liked the take on Uhura and how she plays an important role in the film (outside of being Spock's love interest).

-Plot. Time travel stories can be very tricky, especially if done wrong. It can be confusing, things don't make much sense and in the end you don't care. The Star Trek franchise has done it well a few times in past films including Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home and Star Trek: First Contact. Star Trek also is successful in not only doing a time travel story, but radically altering the events that lead to the crew of the Enterprise coming together and altering the future. This is the first time that I can remember where a story has been altered but it doesn't feel like it was a retcon just because the writers couldn't come up with anything else to tie up a story. Plus, this has left me wondering what's next for this new Star Trek universe? What will happen to the Vulcans? Can they survive with so many of their population gone. Will some notable Vulcan characters that were in other movies and TV shows now exist? Intriguing questions that actually make me want to see a Star Trek sequel.

- Special Effects. Lots of explosions. Make up looked great. I also liked how Abrams focused on elements of the ship (ie. being built, escape pods, the shuttle bay on the Enterprise).

-Humor. Liked that the film used a large deal of humor to go along with the drama of the film. Star Trek throughout it's history has it's humorous moments, especially with the original series and it's Space Cowboy nature.

- Leonard Nimoy. It's always great to see him as Spock. I also liked how his role was actually relevant and significant to the plot and not just a meaningless cameo.

The Bad
This is me being the most nitpicky and I know somebody will complain about ignore this for the most part.

- Would have liked to see the Narada do battle with the Klingons ( as mentioned but not shown in the movie). There is a rumor out there that Nero and his crew get captured by the Klingons during their 25 year wait for Spock. Maybe this will be a deleted scene in the DVD extras?

- Thought the Kirk/Spock-Prime run in was way too coincidental on the ice planet. Also, the Spock "I wanted you and Kirk to work together to develop the friendship" plan was very risky. But, it was explained and we all know that Spock and Kirk would be friends eventually anyway.

The Ugly
Star Trek is only one of a few franchises that has done a reboot in the last few years. The most notable ones to date is James Bond (Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) and Batman (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight). We'll also see a slight reboot later this month with the release of Terminator Salvation. I don't believe I've ever seen a reboot like this before where the previous franchise is acknowledged as existing, yet the future of the Star Trek universe has been altered in such a way that anything can now happen and the fans can't really complain because it's been executed so well I believe that people will want to see what happens next.
One can only hope that the future of the Star Trek universe will remain as interesting and unpredictable as Star Trek itself. If you have any interest in seeing Star Trek in the theater, do so and if you are near one.......see it in IMAX. Just watch out for the IMAX experience that really isn't in a IMAX theater (this did happen to me as well, even though the film quality was awesome).

Final Grade: A
(Ed. Note: I'm a big fan of the Star Trek Universe, not a Trekkie IMO but I've watched all the Trek films, ST:TNG and the original series. Just letting you know since my take on Trek may be different from that of a person who's never seen it before. Matter of fact my friend Dan gave Star Trek a B- b/c he didn't get some of the concepts since he'd never watched Star Trek before)

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